In the UK, the US’s National Football League (NFL) has never been so popular, and UK-based NFL bookies are claiming that betting on the NFL has never been so popular as well.
In short, the major online bookmakers in the UK are all suggesting that the amount of money that’s been wagered on the NFL season so far is set to eclipse all previous records. The NFL’s popularity in the UK has risen in spades since the turn of the century, and the regular extravaganza of NFL games being played in the UK is now most definitely a huge part of the annual UK sporting calendar.
This season has seen the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Baltimore Ravens 44-7 and the New Orleans Saints hammer the Miami Dolphins 20-0 at Wembley Stadium. The Los Angeles Rams thrashed the Arizona Cardinals 33-0 at Twickenham, and in November the Minnesota Vikings will take on the Cleveland Browns. Both games at Wembley attracted over 84,000 spectators, while nearly 74,000 fans watched the Rams-Cardinals game. The appetite for American football in the UK has perhaps never been so high.
The London games also attracted a record number of punters whom placed wagers on the outcome of these matches. The largest sports books in the UK, such as Coral and Paddy Power, state that betting interest increases ten-fold when an NFL regular season game moves to London.
Unfortunately, the NFL big-wigs are not completely enthusiastic about this upsurge in betting interest in their sport when their games are moved to England’s capital. Sports betting in the USA is still largely frowned upon, and only a handful of states across the USA permit the placement of wagers on any sporting activity, including American football. In order for the International Series games to go ahead, the NFL insisted that there be some restrictions on real world betting around Wembley and Twickenham.
Here in the UK betting on sport is firmly entrenched within the national conscience, so it’s a little puzzling for UK punters to understand why the USA seems so against what could be a lucrative, cash-generating market for them. A big EPL game – say Manchester United taking on Manchester City – will see close to £5 million in total bets being placed upon it. This season’s most ‘wagered upon’ NFL game will see figures close to half a million.
While USA sporting officials are keen to exploit some commercial aspects of their sports (for example, most baseball teams will wear five or six different styled jerseys during the season) they like to keep other aspects ‘pure’, and not allowing sports betting on games is one of them. The UK doesn’t share a similar view, which is possibly why the amount wagered upon the NFL is setting new records.
Has interest in the NFL and wagering on the NFL peaked? With the amount of betting revenue that is being generated, it seems likely that all the leading sports books in the UK certainly hope that this is not the case.